US Strike Meant to Deter Assad, Not Start Military Campaign in Syria, British Defense Head Says

A handout photo made available by the US Navy Office of Information shows the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducting strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, 07 April 2017. Photo: Seaman Ford Williams/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • US missile strike is designed to prevent Syria’s President Assad from using chemical weapons again, British Defense Secretary says.
  • Strike is not the start of a new American military campaign in the Middle East, he reveals.
  • UK government has declared it ‘fully supports’ the US strike against Assad.
  • Britain was told about the strike in advance but had not been asked to participate.

The US missile strike carried out early on Friday morning against the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Asssad is intended to deter Assad from using chemical weapons again, and not intended to start a new military campaign, according to British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon.

US President Donald Trump has already made it clear that the strike was in retaliation to the “horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians” purportedly carried out by the Assad regime on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Khan Sheikhun, Idlib province, Northwest Syria.

On Thursday night (Friday morning in Syria), Trump ordered a strike with Tomahawk missiles on the Al-Shayrat Airfield in Homs province in Western Syria, a military air base of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,

The missile strike was launched from two US destroyers in the Mediterranean, and struck the Al-Shayrat Air Base in Homs province because it was from this base that the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province was launched.

The US Department of Defense has said the missile strike has damaged Syrian aircraft and the air field reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.

‘Entirely Appropriate’

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon described the US missile strike against Syria as measured response to the chemical attack in Idlib province, not the start of a new US military campaign in the Middle East, The Independent reported.

“This strike was very limited to one airfield, it was entirely appropriate, it’s designed to deter the regime from carrying out further chemical weapons attacks,” Fallon told ITV.

“So we don’t see it as the start of a different military campaign,“ he added.

Fallon emphasized the position of the UK government in support of the US military strike against the regime of the Syrian President, but said Britain had not participated in it.

“We’ve not been asked to be involved in this, this was not a matter for the coalition that’s in Syria and Iraq fighting Daesh (ISIS),“ he explained.

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon (r) is seen here with US Secretary of State for Defense, James Mattis in London, England, 31 March 2017. Photo: Po Owen Cooban/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

‘Fully Supporting’

Downing Street, i.e. the Office of the British Prime Minister, said in a statement that “fully supports” the military offensive by the US President.

“[The missile strike] was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks,” it said.

Sources from Downing Street are quoted as confirming that they were in “close contact” with the US administration throughout Thursday and had been told of the strikes on the Syrian regime’s airbase in advance.

George Osborne, the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the new assault on Syria provided a chance to “make amends” for the “terrible” vote in the British House of Commons in 2013, in which then UK Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out the prospect of British involvement in any military action in the region after the Government was defeated by 272 voted to 285.

“So it takes Donald Trump to re-establish the West’s 100 year old redline against the abhorrent use of chemical weapons,” Osborne commented.

Crispin Blunt, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the House Commons of the British Parliament who supported the action in 2015 to attack Isis but voted against the 2013 strike, added the strike appeared to be “carefully collaborated”.

“I think we should we continue on the track we are on. It will have the consequence of putting further pressure on the Syrian regime in the Geneva talks,“ he told the Today program.

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